Public housing tenants must report all household income, financial assets and property ownership to Housing NSW.
Any changes must be reported to Housing NSW within 28 days. If Housing NSW receives information that a tenant has not reported financial information or changes, they may conduct an investigation.
If Housing NSW finds that financial information is incorrect, it may recalculate the rental subsidy and backdate the new rent to the date the change occurred. If Housing NSW decides that the tenant has deliberately reported incorrectly, it may take action to terminate the tenancy and prosecute the tenant for criminal fraud.
It is also important to note that Housing NSW’s policy on property ownership has changed. Previously, owning a property could mean that a tenant was ineligible for public housing, but a tenant who came into ownership of a property (for example, by bequest in a will) may not necessarily have to give up their tenancy. The new policy provides that if a tenant or their partner owns or has shares in a property that they could live in, they will no longer be eligible for public housing.
From 7 April to 31 May 2014 Housing NSW has an amnesty for public housing tenants who have incorrectly reported financial information. This means that tenants have the opportunity to report their financial information without running the risk of being charged backdated rent, being evicted or facing criminal prosecution for fraud. However, tenants who report that they own (or have a share in) a property that they could live in or sell, may be asked to give up their public housing property. The amnesty applies to all public housing and Aboriginal Housing Office properties. People living in community housing are not covered by this amnesty.
The amnesty does not protect tenants who have already received a letter from Housing NSW indicating that they believe the incorrect information has been reported.